Karen Truberg stands by the 2,977 flags in Hesky Park she helped lay out honoring the people who died on Sept. 11, 2001. Truberg herself was working in the World Trade Center at the time of the attack and got to safety. (Photo by Erin Plummer) (click for larger version)
September 16, 2021MEREDITH – Among the volunteers laying out flags in Hesky Park and joining fellow townspeople in remembering the Sept. 11 attacks was one woman who was at the World Trade Center that day 20 years ago.
Karen Truberg was working on the 62nd floor of the North Tower and safely escaped the building, even getting married three weeks later. Now living in Meredith, she shared her story from that day.
Truberg had worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey since 1982. On Sept. 11, 2001, she was living in New Jersey and worked for the Office of Medical Services from an office on the 62nd floor of the North Tower. Truberg was also in the building during the 1993 bombing.
On that day, Truberg was engaged and her wedding was scheduled three weeks later.
On Sept. 11, 2001, she said she came into work that morning running a little late.
She had just gotten into her office when her sister called and said she was having problems finding a hotel for the wedding.
"I was on the phone with her and there was just a big bang, and I told her I needed to hang up because we were being bombed," Truberg said.
Truberg said there as an initial impact, but the building wasn't shaking. She got in touch with her fiancé who told her to "just leave."
"You don't stay, you just leave so I headed for the stairway as quick as I could and everybody was pretty calm going down," Truberg said. "There wasn't really any shaking until we got to, I don't even know what floor it was, and then there was shaking and we were all hid in a little alcove, but then it stopped and we continued down the stairs."
They initially got to the ground floor, but the egress was blocked off and firefighters told them to go up the stairs.
"This is a kicker too as I think about it, as luck would have it there was a maintenance guy there that had a key to a door that led to the concourse level of the World Trade Center so then we were outside," Truberg said.
She and the others walked through a tunnel through water before getting to the surface.
"When we got outside it was just gray, there was just debris everywhere and we got to the street and it wasn't too long when we were walking that the south tower collapsed," Truberg said.
Truberg said she doesn't recall how but she eventually met up with her sister, who also worked in New York City.
"She says, 'I'm not leaving you here,'" Truberg said.
Truberg and her sister walked to the Javits Center, an over three mile walk from the World Trade Center, and boarded a ferry to Hoboken, New Jersey.
She said she had no injuries from the attack but was really sore from walking so much for a few days later.
Truberg was back to work on Sept. 13, 2001, out of the Port Authority's offices in New Jersey and joined her co-workers in mourning so many colleagues who died that day.
Working in the Medical Services Office, she said she had got to know a lot of staff members in the Port Authority. After the attack, 84 of them lost their lives.
Truberg did get married three weeks later as scheduled.
"Most of the people that came to the wedding worked for the Port Authority and they had been working round the clock, so they were ready to have a party," she said.
Truberg and her husband had been coming to Meredith since before 2001. She said they took a drive to Maine and took Route 25 on the way back, driving right through Meredith.
"We were like wow this is pretty and so we kept on coming back and we even came here on our honeymoon," Truberg said.
They built a vacation home in Meredith in 2004 and moved there permanently in 2011. Truberg's husband has since passed away and she still lives in Meredith.
She said she has attended the 9/11 ceremony every year. She was also one of the volunteers who helped lay out the 2,977 flags in Hesky Park, one for each person who died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Truberg said volunteers were out on Sept. 10 starting around 1:30 p.m. to lay out the flags.
"I was very impressed by the number of people that were here helping out," she said.
After 20 years, Truberg said it was an emotional day for her.
"You never get over anything like that," she said. "You still think of the people who passed away and what everybody went through that day was just surreal."
Truberg said she loved how people in Meredith were coming together to remember.
"Meredith is a great town and they're truly (people) that remember, even though they might not have first-hand knowledge of what went on that day but they certainly remember, it's very impressive," Truberg said.